Saturday, April 02, 2011

La Marseillaise in English

I like God Save the Queen, both the music and the words are very anthemy. But in England I often hear complaints: 'Oh, why don't we have something as rousing as La Marseillaise! Imagine that man Laszlo walking up to the orchestra and telling them to play God Save the Queen!'

Well, here is the English version sung by Louis Graveure (recording from around 1919). Note that he sings the chorus with words slightly different from the 'official' text (see below the clip): instead of 'To arms, to arms, ye brave!' it's 'To arms, to arms, you France!' More patriotic, I suppose. In the French original it is 'to arms, citizens', not 'brave' or 'French'.

See the clip from Casablanca on this post (in Russian) about the connection between the film and Dostoyevsky's novel 'The Possessed' (link to free Kindle download). And hear the Russian adaptation by Pyotr Lavrov (1875) The Workers' Marseillaise here

Ye sons of France, awake to glory,
Hark, hark! what myriads bid you rise!
Your children, wives and white-haired grandsires.
Behold their tears and hear their cries! (repeat)
Shall hateful tyrants, mischiefs breeding,
With hireling hosts, a ruffian band,
Affright and desolate the land,
While peace and liberty lie bleeding?

To arms, to arms, ye brave!
The avenging sword unsheath,
March on, march on!
All hearts resolv'd
On victory or death!

Now, now, the dangerous storm is rolling
Which treacherous kings confederate raise!
The dogs of war, let loose, are howling,
And lo! our fields and cities blaze! (repeat)
alt: And lo! our homes will soon invade!
And shall we basely view the ruin
While lawless force with guilty stride
Spreads desolation far and wide
With crimes and blood his hands embruing?

To arms, to arms, ye brave!...

With luxury and pride surrounded
The vile insatiate despots dare,
Their thirst of power and gold unbounded,
To mete and vend the light and air! (repeat)
Like beasts of burden would they load us,
Like gods would bid their slaves adore,
But man is man, and who is more?
Then shall they longer lash and goad us?

To arms, to arms, ye brave!...

O Liberty, can man resign thee
Once having felt thy generous flame?
Can dungeons, bolts or bars confine thee
Or whips thy noble spirit tame? (repeat)
Too long the world has wept, bewailing
That falsehood's dagger tyrants wield,
But freedom is our sword and shield,
And all their arts are unavailing.

To arms, to arms, ye brave!...

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